Diaries of The Breadman’s Daughter: My Best Friend Forever.

B at Boulevard Lake posing in bellbottoms.

B at Boulevard Lake posing in bellbottoms.

I have a best friend.  Ma always told me that if I had one really good friend in life, then I was truly blessed.  She was right.  And I do.  I was reminded of this on Saturday when a little package arrived just for me.

Little back story.  We met when we were both sixteen.  My recollections of our first meeting are hazy, veiled in layers of years. I think we were introduced at a party.  Why not?  We were teenage girls.  That initial contact put us into each other’s orb for life.

We might have met sooner, had we grown up in the same neighborhood.  The world is small in a small town but even smaller when you’re a little kid.  Now when I look back, there were many opportunities for us to have met before that night. The Old Man delivered bread to their house. Our neighborhoods weren’t that far apart.  We were both Finlanders.  But back then, I never wandered too far away from 204.

We had been going to the same high school for two years before the party and yet we had never crossed paths.  We were in different academic programs and travelled in different circles.  I was a band nerd and had trouble making eye contact.  She was one of the admin girls and painfully shy.

But once we were introduced that all changed.  Wham!  She’s in my universe and we’re bumping into each other everywhere.  Hallways. Gymnasium.  Cafeteria.  Washrooms.  Schoolyard.

We had a lot in common.

Soon we were walking home from school together. Sometimes we would stop at the corner before heading on our separate ways. These conversations that so absorbed us; it was impossible to let go. Other times she would come to my house for tea and the fresh-baked cookies Ma always had waiting for us.  Our discussions were large and deep for two teenage girls.

B and pregnant Boo on the shores of Lake Superior.

B and pregnant Boo on the shores of Lake Superior.

We explored everything.  No topic was off limits. We wondered and pondered.  Probed and mused.  Drilled down deep to places most young girls that age would never have contemplated.  The subject matter wasn’t always full of profundity however, nor was it terribly serious.  We were sixteen after all.  We talked about boys a lot.  She had a steady boyfriend.  I did not.  At times I lived vicariously through her romance.  It was fun.  And safer.

We were tender and sensitive.  Lovely and sweet.  Gentle and kind.  Creative and imaginative.  We both liked to write and sew and do crafty things.  We combed through teenage magazines and picked out fashions we loved.  One of our favorite haunts was the fabric department at Eaton’s.  She was a brilliant sewer.  I was accomplished enough but nowhere near as gifted as her.  She could have been a fashion designer.  That’s how good she was.

We were poets and Philosopher Princesses.  Our hearts were broken often.  Not just from love gone wrong.  But from all the pain, suffering and heartache we saw in the world. Everything touched our young fragile spirits.   We were emotional risk takers, willing to go out on a limb.  Fall.  Break.  And when we did, we helped each heal.

We laughed our faces off.  And cried until we were exhausted.  We ranted.  And raved.  We sang along to our favorite records.  And danced like wild girls in my small upstairs bedroom.

She taught me yoga and the power of meditation. Macrame and how to make the perfect square knot.  The fine art of stringing colorful beads into gorgeous necklaces. She gave me a slip from her mom’s African violet and taught me how to grow my first plant.

We hung out at local dives and smoked cigarettes and drank coffee until we were shaking from nerves rattled by too much caffeine and nicotine.  We wrestled with our own mortality.  Danced with our inner demons.  Contemplated what it was like on the other side of this life.  We were complex young women.  We were simple teenage girls.

B with my son having a tea party.

B with my son having a tea party.

We shared dreams.  Held secrets.  An unbreakable bond.  Sisters of the soul.  Best friends.  We got each other.  Really dug one another.  Like we were cut from the same cloth.  We were sisters from different mothers.

We marvel that this friendship of ours has endured decades.  We’ve gone from Teen Girl Warriors to Wise Crone Goddesses.  We can be apart for years, barely keep in touch, and reconnect in a heart beat. We’ve been through first loves, marriages and separations.  We’ve had children and watched them grow into beautiful adults. We’ve lost loves and discovered new ones in unexpected places. We’ve said goodbye to parents and stood at gravesides. We’ve been through a lot together and apart.  Yet one truth remains.  I’ve always known that no matter what, she had my back.  And I had hers.

Last week, she posted a note on my Facebook timeline.

“Did I receive the pkg?”

“I got a notification but didn’t know who it was from.  I was going to pick it up on Saturday,” I posted in response.

I love surprises.  On Saturday afternoon while E and I were running errands we stopped into the local grocery store, where the post office is tucked away in one corner.  I picked up the parcel, which was light and rattle-free.  Its weight and silence only added to its delicious mystery.  E picked up a couple of pints of ice cream that were on sale and headed to the checkout.  While he was waiting in line, I went outside.

B's original design vintage sundress inspired chef's apron.

B’s original design vintage sundress inspired chef’s apron.

Suddenly I was sixteen again.  I couldn’t wait to get home.  Standing next to the row of grocery carts, I thought to myself, I’ll just take the tape off.  But once the tape was removed, I couldn’t stop. It was like Pandora’s Box.  Too tempting.  Before E was through the checkout I had one end of the brown wrapper removed and was opening the box.

And there it was.  Wrapped in green tissue, sealed with gold stickers, and inscribed with five precious words, “made with love for Bonney.”  An original design by B.  Vintage sundress inspired chef’s apron.  Meticulously crafted with attention to every detail.  Sweet whimsical buttons in yellow red and blue set on tiny pink flowers.  Wonder-filled.

There isn’t a word for the delight I felt at that moment.

Once home, and in the privacy of my sacred writing space, I held up this beloved gift to take in its full magnificence.  It was like I was holding B in my arms.  Love was radiating from every thread.

Tucked in the pocket of the apron was her “go to” dessert.  Plum Clafoutis.  I will make this my “go to” dessert too.

Her final instruction to me on the pink post-it note included in the package, read simply. “Enjoy!”

And I will.  Oh yes I will.

Footnote: Last summer when I was back East for my brother’s wedding anniversary B and I had a glorious visit.  It was brief, just one afternoon but long enough to reconnect.  She took me out to see her beautiful garden.  Everything she touches blooms and blossoms abundantly. One flower in particular captured my attention. The Brown Eyed Susan.  In the package, with the apron, was an envelope with one last note from B.  It was filled with Brown Eyed Susan seeds from her garden.  “Scatter them in spring and let nature take its course,” she wrote.

Yes, my dear friend. 

Diaries of The Breadman’s Daughter: I Love To Do Lists.

I knew one day I’d start a list. In the meantime I stood in front of windows and smiled.

I love To Do lists.  They keep me organized.  Help me to remember.  Remind me of what’s important.  They keep things orderly. Sweet and simple.  Neat and tidy. I love the symmetry these lists bring to my life.  Balance.  Ease.

I’ve always been a compulsive list maker.  As I age my appreciation for this practice has grown exponentially.

There is this list that I have been compiling in my book of “boo’s to do’s for today” that just keeps growing.  It appears to be never-ending. And for this I am grateful. These are the eternal things. The timeless. The constants in my life.  And the infinite. The daily reminders of how good life is.  How lucky I am to have been born in the time and place that is now, to the parents who raised me with love, to the children I have done the same, to the family and friends who I have been blessed to have walked the earth with, for their presence and presents.  For grace and forgiveness. For hope. For faith in us all to create a better, kinder, gentler place.

It’s all a wide-eyed wonder to me.  It’s humbling. I am thankful every day that I am here now with you. And you. And you.

So this is the ever-growing list of Boo’s To Do’s for Today.

The cover of my book of to do’s. It’s nice.

Today I will:
Thank God for my human being-ness
Be curious but not nosey
Be helpful but not pushy
Be funny but not hurtful for the sake of a joke
Be a dreamer but keep my feet on the ground
Be happy but not at someone else’s expense
Be honest but not brutal
Be smart but not a pompous know-it-all
Be supportive but not a door mat
Be a seeker but look for Light not darkness
Be God-minded but not God

Today I will:
Thank God for the little things in my life
Kiss my husband good morning
Tell my kids that I love them always, forever and a day
Eat mostly healthy stuff today
Eat chocolate, devour the entire bar
Smile at strangers, even the scary ones
Be helpful and kind and generous
Laugh at myself
Practice patience with everyone but especially the very old and the very young
Say my prayers and let go of the day

Today I will:
Thank God for a new perspective
See people in a different light
Recognize the truth
Appreciate an opposing opinion
Give everyone the benefit of the doubt
Understand that there are other sides to the story
Look for a new perspective in an old place
Offer grace so I can also receive it
Read between the lines and hear the words not spoken
Say my prayers and settle into the quiet

I like the red ribbon and yellow sticky note.

Today I will:
Thank God for the playful
Play it as it lays and learn acceptance
Play for keeps with those who matter
Play for real with everyone
Play around and square and mix it up
Play full with all I’ve got
Play games that are fun not hurtful
Play back again and again, especially if it’s good
Replay and repeat tomorrow
Say my prayers and sleep lighthearted

Today I will:
Thank God for all the wonders of Nature
Chase double rainbows across the sky
Sing with wild abandon in the rain
Blow free like a leaf in the wind
Spread my wings and fly
Soak up the sun and catch some rays
Dig in the dirt and get mud on my face
Soar with the eagles
Set the world on fire
Reach for the stars and make three wishes
Howl crazy at the moon
Say my prayers and drift into the waters of heaven

Today I will:
Thank God for this new day of simple things
Forgive everyone, even those I don’t want to
Do yoga and be grateful that my body still moves
Eat an apple, possibly an orange, but not a banana
Paint my toenails red and smile at my feet
Take my dogs for a walk
Drink water right out of the tap
Be polite and mannerly, please and thanks
Listen better to everyone but especially to the very old and the very young
Say my prayers and plump my pillow

Thank God for all the wonders of nature.

Today I will:
Thank God for the givers
Give a helping hand
Give advice only when asked
Give away the good things I no longer want, need or wear
Give to a charity besides the usual ones
Give love even to the unlovable
Give someone a surprise gift for no reason, just because
Give others the benefit of the doubt
Give of myself even when I’m tired and don’t feel like it
Give someone else the credit and the glory
Say my prayers and give thanks

Today I will:
Thank God for the journey through this day
Applaud the achievements of others
Eat more red foods
Be respectful and considerate of others
Play my guitar even when it sounds painful
Be honest, starting with myself
Bake chocolate chocolate chip cookies, then pig out
Sit quietly and breathe easy
Take the long way home and enjoy the trip
Say my prayers and drift into dreamland

Today I will:
Thank God for healing
Mend all bridges in my life that are broken
Sew buttons on tattered open wounds
Stitch time that has been squandered
Mend a broken heart
Seam together a fragile friendship
Repair all hurt caused by my good intentions
Fix things that can be fixed and bless what cannot
Patch the worn and the weary with love and kindness
Say my prayers and hug my love

Today I will:
Thank God for countless things in my life
Count my blessings
Count the red smarties in the box
Count the steps from the couch to the fridge
Count my friends who count
Count the birds at the feeder
Count the calories in the chocolate cake then eat it any way
Count the purple tulips in my garden
Count the number of sleeps until my summer holidays
Say my prayers and count sheep

Thank God for the Makers.

Today I will:
Thank God for all my senses: the first five, the sixth, common and Spidey
See the beauty in all things, even the unusual
Listen with an open heart to hear the unspoken
Breathe in all that is around me, especially the smells of nature and of the kitchen
Touch someone in need of a gentle hand
Taste the sweetness in life not the bitter
Trust my inner voice when in doubt
Remember the sound and reasonable advise of my mother
Pay attention to the goose bumps
Say my prayers and welcome a sense of peace

Today I will:
Thank God for the lazy days
Take it slow and easy
Relax and chill with a cup of green tea
Read a gossip mag from cover to cover while watching my fav soap opera
Eat a bag of Oreo cookies
Consider practicing yoga
Contemplate meditating
Think about going for a walk
Exercise my option to do absolutely nothing
Take a long soak in the tub
Say my prayers and rest gently

Today I will:
Thank God for the makers
Make believe and have fun like a five year old
Make memories without Kodak
Make amends to everyone I’ve hurt
Make love with the light on
Make up not down
Make music without an instrument
Make peace with myself first
Make better all my owies
Make good on all my promises
Make muffins, blueberry lemon
Make magic without a wand
Make friends with myself
Say my prayers and make ZZZ’s

Today I will:
Thank God for housework
Change the sheets and flip the mattress
Do laundry and maybe iron
Wash the dishes by hand
Scrub the floors, the old fashioned way, down on my knees
Vacuum even the hidden places
Polish the furniture with lemon oil
Clean the windows
Stop to admire the “clean and shiny”
Say my prayers and fall quickly into a deep sleep

Thank God for the lazy days.

Today I will:
Thank God for chance to begin again
Turn over a new leaf, discover the mysteries hidden there
Start a new chapter that begins with hope
Wipe the slate clean of all past doubts
Start fresh with a different perspective
Begin anew with novel ideas
Embrace the blank page and let go of fear
Clear the deck and make space for possibilities
Close the book and make peace with the past
Say my prayers.

Diaries of the Breadman’s Daughter: Everything Scares Me.

I was even too afraid to smile in my Kindergarten photo.

I have fears.  I have always been afraid.  Everything scares me.  Anxiety has haunted me from the beginning, probably even in the womb. Perhaps there is deeper meaning to that first cry.  I have no conscious memory of not being anxious about something.  In fact, fear and anxiety have been such an indelible part of my life I suspect on some level I’ve grown comfortable with this diabolic duo of emotional destruction.

I’m an ordinary woman who has always longed to live an extraordinary life.  And in some ways I do.  I look back with wide-eyed wonder at the life I have led, the people who have surrounded me, travelled this journey with me.  I’ve come a long way baby!  From the little girl trembling and weeping on her mother’s knee because she didn’t want to go to kindergarten without her to a fully evolved woman with accomplishments, skills, adroitness, and stuff under my belt.  I’ve had the privilege to have met and worked with sublimely talented people, who have shared their gifts with me and enriched my life, both professionally and personally.  I’ve fallen in love, married and had children, who have sat on my knee and wept.  What an honor to be their mother and to have dried their tears. Yet through it all I have been afraid.  Some days just getting out of bed is an act of courage.

It’s a miracle that I’ve done anything with my life.  I don’t recall what got me off my mother’s knee and into that kindergarten classroom. I don’t know what she said or did.  But I do know it required faith and trust. The flip side of the coin.  The antithesis of the diabolical duo.  Faith that someone or something was out there watching over me.  Trust in my mother, that she wouldn’t lead me astray nor send me somewhere that would cause me harm.  I was her dear one.

I tried a slew of things to overcome this underlying malaise that colored my days including reading copious pop psychology books.  In turn I became a perennial student of self-help, a physician to my subconscious wounds and minister to my spiritual being.  Some of these books were helpful, downright inspired, especially those written by Dr. Wayne Dyer.  I think I’ve read everything he’s written from Your Erroneous Zones to the one I’m reading right now, Change Your Thoughts – Change Your Life.

In addition to books, I took fitness classes, practiced yoga, tried meditation, attempted creative visualization, ran my butt off, rode my bike everywhere, hopped on an elliptical machine every morning for a year, and I walked and walked and walked.  I still run five mornings a week, practice yoga every morning prior to the run and I walk almost every day.

All of this mental and physical activity has helped.  But nothing has helped more than the time I spend in quiet solitude writing my letters to God.  Sometimes it feels a bit like we’re pen pals, albeit a tad one-sided. And other times it feels like unrequited love.  No cards.  No flowers.  No love letters in return.  But bit by bit, day by day I’m learning to trust in the process of life.  I’m slowly letting go and letting God. And I tell myself that I was Ma’s dear one.  And I like to think that I am God’s dear one too.  Only good can come from a relationship like that.  Nothing to fear.